“I am just so tired,” Rochelle told me recently. We’ve had a very hard time getting together for our weekly interviews since she started working two jobs about a month ago. The grocery store location she will be working for has pushed back its opening for a second time, so she is still working at one of the company’s other locations. She officially quit her job at the home for the disabled but is picking up two or three days a week there for extra money. The home has many open positions and desperately need her to fill in. This works out well for Rochelle, too, right now. She juggles the two jobs and the driving back and forth between where her mother stays and her own apartment. This is a sixty-mile round trip. One week the children stay at her mother’s, and one week her mother and the children stay with her. It is no wonder Rochelle is tired.
“The grocery store is so busy,” Rochelle said. It is the busiest location the company has, and they say if she is successful there, she’ll be successful at the new location, too. It has been quite a while since Rochelle has worked in such a busy situation. The department store she had worked for two and a half years ago was very busy until the demographics changed, and they started to wind down to closing the store. She was only working one job then and had a set schedule. Her schedule now isn’t set and changes weekly, and her children aren’t in school. Juggling two jobs and three kids is tiring for anyone.
Rochelle and I were finally going to meet for an interview a couple of mornings ago. My sister, Jessie, the anthropologist, was in town, and we were going to have lunch together after the interview. Jessie and Rochelle had never met. Rochelle really wanted Jessie to meet her children, but they were at their grandmother’s, thirty miles away. Since she didn’t have to work that day Rochelle drove the sixty mile round trip to pick up her children the evening before the lunch. It was important to Rochelle that she show Jessie (who funds the interviews) her proudest accomplishment. She wanted to demonstrate that she was a better mother to her children than her mother had been to her. Rochelle spent several hours “combing the country” out of her daughters’ hair so that they would look “proper” when meeting Jessie. Rochelle spent some time on her own hair, as well. They all looked great when they arrived at the restaurant.
Since Rochelle had the children with her that morning we skipped the interview again, and called the lunch an interview. Everyone had a good time, and Rochelle’s five year old son, Kyle, exclaimed “this is great food,” as he dipped his French fries into ranch dressing and munched on chicken. Rochelle said they hadn’t really had breakfast that day. We even had desert since it was a special lunch: peach cobbler and ice cream all around. The children were relaxed, talkative, and well behaved. They thanked me for lunch, but I told them to thank Jessie since she was paying. “Are you going to split it?” asked Kyle, aware, even at five, of the economic realities of life. “No, my sister is paying for all of it,” I said. So they thanked Jessie and hugged us both when they left. Rochelle had every right to be proud of her accomplishment that day. Her children did her proud.
Maybe next week Rochelle and I can get together for a real interview. Other women juggle two jobs, three kids, and no husband, but it certainly can’t be easy. I know I would be tired too.